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What Is Slab Bacon?

Butcher shops might carry bacon by the slab.
Pork belly is typically cured to make slab bacon.
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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 24 April 2014
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Slab bacon is a substantial cut of pork belly which is usually cured and may also be smoked. It is generally sliced into smaller portions according to a cook’s needs and preferences, allowing greater culinary freedom than pre-sliced bacon. Slab bacon can sometimes be difficult to find, although it is often available from butcher shops and specialty food stores. After purchasing this type of bacon, it is important to properly store it to avoid spoilage.

Usually, slab bacon consists of a substantial cut of pork belly. This is the same cut of pork from which most North American bacon is derived, and both types of bacon tend to be composed largely of streaks of fat. The primary difference between slab bacon and typical North American bacon is that the former is sold in a rectangular block, while the latter is pre-sliced into relatively thin pieces.

In most cases, slab bacon is pre-cured, or treated with a combination of salt, nitrates, and nitrites. This treatment lends flavor to the meat while also making it inhospitable to harmful bacteria. Sometimes this bacon is also smoked, or temporarily placed in a closed environment with a smoke-producing material such as burning wood. The smoking process adds flavor, and in some cases helps to preserve the bacon.

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Perhaps the primary advantage of slab bacon is the fact that a cook can cut it according to his needs and preferences. If he prefers sliced bacon which is thicker than that usually sold in supermarkets, for instance, he is free to cut thick pieces from a slab. Should he need a substantial piece of bacon to lend flavor to a soup or stew, he can cut a large block from the slab.

Depending on where one lives, slab bacon can sometimes be difficult to find. In general, it is not widely available in supermarkets. Those who would like to purchase a slab of uncut bacon might try visiting a butcher shop, a specialty food store, or a farmers’ market.

After purchasing slab bacon, it is important to store it properly to prevent the buildup of bacteria. As a cut of this type of bacon is usually fairly large, it can potentially contain several weeks’ worth of meat. Like most uncooked meats, while raw, this type of bacon will only remain fresh for a few days. Thus to avoid food-borne illness, those who do not anticipate cooking an entire slab of bacon within a few days of purchase should cut off the excess portion, wrap it thoroughly, and freeze it for future use.

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OeKc05
Post 4

My best friend makes a wonderful bacon and potatoes dish using slab bacon. She cuts it up into small squares, and it resembles those little bits of ham available at salad bars.

I watched her make the dish once, and there were a lot of steps involved. She steamed the potatoes before baking them and sauteed them with the bacon at the end. It was a bit too complicated for me to attempt, since I'm not the best cook, but it tasted so good!

She also added chives and salt to this slab bacon recipe. Though the bacon was salty enough on its own, the potatoes really needed extra salt.

kylee07drg
Post 3

@lighth0se33 – Like you, I prefer slab bacon. However, I live alone, and it sometimes seems like a waste to buy such a big cut of meat for just me.

I only eat it now and then, so I have to freeze most of it. I buy those airtight freezer bags that zip up, so I can tell if I have fully closed them.

I have always been afraid of getting popped by bacon grease while cooking it on top of the stove, so I have started baking it in the oven instead. I put a few thick slices in a big cast iron skillet and cook them at 400 degrees for 17 minutes, and they turn out perfectly crispy without putting my skin in danger of being burned.

lighth0se33
Post 2

My family has always preferred thickly sliced bacon over the thin strips you get in the grocery store, so we have always bought slab bacon. My favorite flavor is applewood smoked bacon, and this is what I make for breakfast every weekend.

When bacon is cut thick, it tastes so much better inside of a biscuit. It makes a more substantial breakfast sandwich than thin slices, and I don't have to stuff the biscuit with a fried egg to take up space.

I know that it is probably the less healthy option, but since I only cook it twice a week, I think I'm okay. I get a lot of exercise on those days to work off all the extra fat!

Perdido
Post 1

I like using slab bacon to flavor green beans. My husband isn't crazy about vegetables, but if I include some meat, he will gobble them up.

I cut up some chunks of slab bacon and fry them first. I then use the bacon grease to saute some onions in, and I add the green beans, along with some black pepper. I put just enough water to cover the beans in the skillet, and I let it all simmer for about fifteen minutes.

When the beans are ready, I sprinkle the slab bacon on top of them. The onions and the pepper add a little something extra to the dish, though the bacon is definitely in the forefront. Many restaurants that serve green beans on their buffets cook them with slab bacon, and this makes them more appealing.

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